Reviewer says
Okashi, Keiko Ishida | 2009 | SG

reviewed by Lemonpi

Okashi: Sweet Treats Made With Love
by Keiko Ishida
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish, Country: SG
ISBN: 9789812617804, Year: 2009
Link to publisher’s page or site
This review is the personal opinion of the reviewer.

Overview

At first glance, you may wonder what the fuss over Okashi is all about. A fairly simple book with attractive photographs, it presents appealing recipes that showcase author Ishida’s particular style, incorporating numerous Japanese flavours into many familiar baked goods and dessert items. Creative and suitable for a broad audience, this book should delight many bakers.

Full review

There is a niche in the cookbook industry that I believe still hasn’t been fully satisfied – a gap for translated versions of baking books that specialise in Japanese-style or Japanese-flavour-inspired cakes and pastries. I own some wagashi and patisserie books published in Japanese and am still waiting in hope that someone will develop a cheap and effective translating tool so that I can start using these books. In the meantime, there is reason to be excited by Ishida’s book.

Keiko Ishida is a Tokyo-born, French-trained chef who has taught in both Japan and Singapore. The main, heartfelt objective behind her book, Okashi, is to share recipes for simple sweets (some of which were inspired by her mother) that can be made by anyone in their own home.

At first glance, you may wonder what the fuss over Okashi is all about. It is, indeed, a fairly simple and basic baking book. The pictures are attractive, beautifully styled and photographed. At least one picture accompanies each recipe, with occasional additional images featured depicting the recipe at various stages. The recipes sound appealing, are fuss-free and effectively worded. In other words, a book like some that most of us would already own. It does however also have the distinction of showcasing sweets that Ishida has put her own spin on (Keiko-style Mango Pudding) as well as recipes which incorporate Japanese ingredients such as red bean paste, kinako, green tea, miso, and black sesame into standard dessert items such as cookies, cakes and jellies.

The book would also appeal to more seasoned bakers looking for elegant ways in which to present their sweets and to those looking for something a little different to enhance their repertoire. These readers might want to skip the introductory chapters, which provide a recommended list of baking equipment and advice on what you should do before you start baking, and plunge directly into the recipes instead.

While I would highly recommend this book, it is by no means perfect. A few recipes were not a hit for me — for example, a few of the sponges tend to be quite eggy in nature and flavour. The egg flavour might just be a matter of personal preference and, if required, could easily be masked by the addition of other flavourings such as cinnamon or vanilla.

Okashi is a worthy addition to any collection of baking books. I cannot think of any creative home or professional who would not be delighted by it.

Highly recommended: Bean Curd Cheesecake, Kinako Polvorones, Green Tea Sable Cookies (the best I’ve ever tasted), Rum Fruit Cake and Earl Grey Tea Cake.

Quirky touch : A chapter focusing on recipes that require no eggs, dairy, gelatine or refined sugar (Chestnut and Miso Cake, Strawberry Soy Bean Cake, Apple Brownies, Sweet Potato Cupcakes), and another chapter dedicated to treats you can make for your pet. The latter includes a birthday cake that trumps the appearance of other cakes I’ve seen designed for human consumption.

This is an original review for The Gastronomer’s Bookshelf.
Main rating: 3. Recommended – some flaws
Visual appeal: Attractive
Suitability as a gift: Likely to be strongly appreciated
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Rating: 3.7/5 (7 votes cast)
Okashi, Keiko Ishida | 2009 | SG, 3.7 out of 5 based on 7 ratings

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2 Comments

  1. Posted 04 Apr 2010 at 22:43 | Permalink

    Great review, Lemonpi! That book looks really tempting – I do love Japanese-style pastries, and I agree, it’s really difficult to find good translated versions!

    I think I’ll buy myself a copy – that Green tea tiramisu looks very tempting!

    xox Sarah

  2. Posted 16 Jan 2011 at 18:59 | Permalink

    Oh great! Thanks for the review Lemonpi! Was debating whether or not I should buy this book and your review has convinced me to get it!

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